Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stars Establish Price In Richards Trade...Can Rangers Afford It?

The Brad Richards rumors have been coming fast and furious of late and tonight would be no exception to that.  In a chat today on ESPN.com, Pierre LeBrun in answering a question from a Stars fan about a possible Richards to New York Rangers trade said the following:
I know from talking to a Stars front office source that, should they ever decide to move Richards before this year's Feb. 28 trade deadline, it's only because 1) they weren't able to sign him to an extension and 2) they're offered the kind of deal that sets them up "for the next five years." That was the way the Stars source described a possible Richards deal. If the Stars move Richards, and there remains the chance that they won't, it's for a package that helps the team long term. So whether it's the Kings or Rangers or any other team ponying up for Richards, young assets will be the key component.
Yikes.  I have said all along that those who thought the Stars were going to give him away for the scraps some thought the Rangers could get him for were insane.  I also believe that if this deal goes down it will be for more than Kovalchuk got the Thrashers whether people believe that is the case or not or even if they think it should be. 

So let us fully break down what Pierre said.  The first piece of news that might shock some but not really myself is the idea that the Stars are trying to re-sign or should I say extend Richards contract passed this season.  There is all the talk about money problems and those are legit, but the moment they deal off Richards they lose a lot of revenue in ticket and merchandise sales.  Also with the good news for the Rangers on the cap increase yesterday there was also a negative for the Rangers in terms of someone like Richards.  What I mean by that is the cap floor also is raised to 46.4 million which means one way or another Dallas needs to spend some money so why not spend it on a guy that can help them win and make them money.  Obviously there is no guarantee Brad Richards wants to stay in Dallas or that they will give him the years or dollars it takes.

Now let’s take a look at what he said about any possible trade and see if we can deduce what the package for Brad Richards would have to look like to get it done and then if that amount is worth it.  Not to be too literal but I do not think it is an accident when they say set for the next five years and what I mean by that is they want talent that is under team control for the next five or so years before they hit free agency.  I think this takes guys like Dubinsky and Callahan off their wish list in because they are about to get paid this season, but it could put a Dan Girardi on it since he has a set deal for the next 3+ seasons.  More likely for me is that it means a deal built around Artem Anisimov or Derek Stepan as both are five or more years from free agency.  I think it also means you are going to have to add on at least one high end prospect and a high if not first round pick.  If I was guessing my package does not change much from what it was a month ago but something like Anisimov/Stepan + Kreider/Grachev/Werek + McDonagh and a pick.  To me that is the kind of package that can help shape a franchise for the next five seasons and it is one that the Rangers should take for themselves in keeping what they have and continuing forward in their building process. Obviously it is the case that what a team wants and what a team gets are too very different things in many cases, but that does not mean they have to deal him at the deadline for pennies on the dollar and frankly for me anything of value to the core of this team going forward is not worth the move.  From the Dallas perspective they can keep him and make a run at the playoffs which means more money for the ownership in tickets and revenue especially if they get in and it would also give them more time to sign him or he can be dealt like many others in the summer at the draft or before FA.

If Richards hits the open market in July then we can debate the cap merits of that then but if the Stars are truly looking for a package that “sets them up for the next five years” the Rangers must decline and hang up the phone.